Monday, March 12, 2018

Tips For Being a Trans Ally

I can't describe how important having supportive friends are during this process and even after you have been out and living full time for years. Please give this post a read and share this post and any information you can. I'd love to hear about your tips and things you do in the comments section below!

1. Don't out anyone... period
This needs no further information but remember outing not only shows a lack of trust but can affect a persons employment, relationships, family,... the list goes on and on. The general rule is, if the person says it is ok to talk about their transition with others that is one thing, if not then don't.

2. Don't ask what someone's old name was or worse what their "real" name is
Just don't... If a trans person want to volunteer this info let them do so on their own. They are who they are right now. Similarly, avoid asking to see pictures or asking any details about who they were before they transitioned. This also goes for someones genitals. Personally if you are concerned with what I have between my legs be either be on a date that is going well or you are my doctor. Everyone else can bugger off.

3. Don't assume you know a persons sexual identity based on the gender identity
This is one I get a lot actually. people assume a lot that I like men when in fact I identify more as a lesbian. Gender and sexuality are very different!

4. If you do not know someone's gender identity listen to them, ask. 
I am trans, I make mistakes in this regard as well. It is not always cut and dry what pronouns to use when talking. I find the best approach is to listen to them for a bit using their name. If I cannot figure it out through context I ask.

5. Listen and be a friend
Understand that coming out is hard and stressful. It is not an easy thing to do and not the same as coming out as gay, lesbian or bi. Also many trans people experiment with their identity, I know I do. Be patient with them and most important be supportive. Remember there is no right way to transition or present a gender (or no gender). Not ever trans woman is femme and not every trans man is masculine. I for one fluctuate between full on female femme to androgynous even into gender queer maleness.

One other bit of advice that falls under this headline is to avoid giving tips that sound like compliments. Statements like "You look like a real girl" or "I'd never had known", etc. sound supportive but can be taken very badly. Instead tell the person simply that they look nice. Also comments like "When you were..." can be awkward at best. Other phrases that can get tricky include phrases that start with "biological...", and "genetic...". The gist is try to avoid questions and comments that can be construed as invalidating.

6. Help your friends feel included and support their fight for inclusion in public spaces
Even things as trivial as using  public restrooms can be dangerous sometimes for trans people. The best way you can help in this regard is to support our fight for inclusive spaces and non-discrimination laws.

7. Words like "tranny," "shemale," "he-she,", etc...
Just don't use them...

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Setting Realistic, Obtainable and Healthy Transition Goals

As with any major life change the decision to transition has to be done with at least a few laid out goals in mind. It is hard to say "set a target and strive for it" because we all change. Our priorities change. What was 100% necessary at the outset of transition may seem trival a few years in... It is important to keep the things in mind. That doesn't mean we shouldn't have some goals in mind. Targets are great because they give us something to aim for. If that target changes or priorities change than so be it, but aimlessly trying to accomplish a complex undertaking is all the more difficult if we do not have some idea of what we want to accomplish.

While I wrote this from the male to female perspective, I think the information is just as valid for female to male transsexuals as well. We all want a lot out of our transitions and we tend to want these things yesterday! This is why I think it is a good idea to sit back and really think for a moment. I would suggest you at least consider these few questions before even considering what you need to do first:
  • What are you trying to do?
  • What do you want? 
  • What do you need to do to get there?
  • What will you do after you get there?
Now the knee jerk answer to these questions is simple... What am I trying to do? Transition duh! But it isn't so simple. There are all kinds of parts to transition. There is physical changes that you may want (HRT, surgery) as well as emotional changes and social dynamics in play. Coming out can be just as difficult (if not more so) than the actual physical transformation.


There are a number of books out there on transitioning. When I first came out I read My Husband Betty and found it really helpful. Since then a number of books on transgender identities, transitioning, and issues have come out!

Put Your Transition into Perceptive

After you know what you want, the next thing I did was write it down everything I thought i needed to do to get there. You may need to do some research to find your options but this is an important step. One big thing this can help with is it can help you put everything into perceptive.

Transition is a monumental task that is both financially and emotionally expensive. It is best to know exactly what you need to do, when you want (and when you actually can) do it, and have a realistic plan to make it happen. Take everything you list and make a timeline.

When you write the timeline out realize your goals will take time (years) to achieve. For starters figure on the following:
  • 6 months of therapy before getting a letter to go to a doctor for hormones
  • A year or so living full time to be considered for surgery
  • Another 6 to 12 month wait once you are cleared to actually have the surgery
While this seems daunting and disheartening I think it is important to realize that you will need time to adjust to living your life in a very different way. Transitioning isn't as easy as changing your clothes. Everyone will treat you differently (and I don't mean in a discriminatory way). The reality is men and women in our society fill very different roles and it takes time (and you should take your time here) to get comfortable living in that role.

Take Your Time

Remember, this (the physical aspect of transitioning) is not a race. Please excuse the cliche, but the object here is not to go from being a woman / man stuck in the wrong body, to a woman / man stuck in a strange body that still doesn't make sense. This can be an terrible reality for some who go too fast. It can also be emotionally disastrous! While the point of this article is about transitioning I have written a about detransitioning I think may be valuable if for nothing else than to highlight the point above. Going to fast may be overwhelming and there could be feelings of regret, uncertainty, or even failure; all of which must be taken into consideration. The reality is moving to fast can cause even deeper despair and lead to deeper depression or worse.

I think we all agree that the purpose of transitioning is is to become happier with who you are on the inside as well as the outside. The only way to do this is to give yourself time to grow into the person you are becoming. Take your time and you will no only begin to see yourself as the person truly are but you will be much happier with your life overall.

Look at Things Realistically

Being realistic does not mean the same as accepting one's fate and giving up. Just know that things take time and transitioning is a process. Nothing happens over night. The effects of HRT take time, surgery take planning and money.

Realize also that many people have health or economic limits placed on them and simply will never be able to have surgery. Does this mean you can't be happy? Absolutely not!!!! I know trans women who cannot even take hormones let alone have surgery and they are living their lives just like the rest of us. We say over and over that we are not defined by what is between our legs and it is true. Post surgery I am not different on the inside than I was before. I had surgery because I felt it was right for me, not because I needed validation for who I was.

Lastly, realize that there is more to life than transition. We tend to get so caught up in transition and forget to live our lives. You will need to factor this into your transition plan as well.

I hope I have offered so good advice here. I am not perfect and I have had my fair share of bumps. Good luck and stay strong.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Male To Female Transsexual Surgery Options

There are a number of possible surgical procedures that male to female transsexual women seek out. Below is a simple overview. Each comes with their own risks so please talk to you doctor and therapist to determine if any are right for you.


Male To Female Transsexual Surgery Options For male to female transsexuals this is the surgery that is usually associated with the term "sex change" (A more correct term would be gender reassignment or sexual reassignment surgery).

The goal of this surgery is the creation of a fully functional vagina and clitoris using existing tissue (and possible skin graphs). During this surgery the testicles are removed and the penile skin is folded inward to create the vagina. The scrotal skin is used in the creating of the labia and the glands of the penis is used to create the clitoris. It is the goal and usual outcome that feeling and sexual arousal are maintained for individuals after undergoing this surgery.

Many surgeons require some amount of preoperative hair removal from the penile shaft, scrotum or both. This prevents hair from growing inside the newly constructed vagina. Also, after the surgery is completed the patient will have to dilate their vagina to prevent shrinkage and or collapse.

There are fairly strict rules on who is eligible for this surgery and what requirements they must fulfill to meet this eligibility. For the most part the patient must be of legal age, they have to have been on hormones for a year (if medically able to), they must have lived at least 12 months in a female gender role, they must have a have a therapist, they must understand the cost and ramifications as well as understand their options and they must know of more then one surgeon who can preform the surgery. While controversial the purpose of these restrictions are said to protect the patient (I do not agree 100% but this isn't an opinion piece).

For a better description of these requirements see the World Professional Association for Transgender Health's Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders

Possible Complications
The following is a non-exhaustive list of possible complications to the previous surgery. Note that no surgery is without risk.

For a vaginplasty this risks include possible irreparable damage to surrounding organs (prostate, bladder, etc), nerve damage and even death. The most common complications with a vaginaplasty according to my research are infection, bleeding, and scarring.

One major complication that must be noted is called a vaginal-rectal fistula. This is when a whole opens between the vagina and the rectum. While usually correctable this is a very serious complication that results in the person having to have a colostomy while the wound heals. Also because dilation may not be possible the newly constructed vagina may collapse resulting in the patient needing to undergo the whole gender reassignment surgery again.


This is usually step two in the gender reassignment surgery process. In this procedure the labia is created or reshaped. This is usually an outpatient procedure done under local anesthesia. Side effects include infection, bleeding, decrease feeling and discomfort.


This surgery involves the removal of the testicles. It can be preformed as an outpatient procedure. Post surgery the patient will no longer produce male levels of testosterone. This may result in side effects that may include loss of bone mass, reduced libido, hot flashes, weight gain and loss of muscle mass; especially if the patient is not taking estrogen.

Breast Augmentation

This is pretty much the same as breast implant surgery for cissexual women. The difference is this, it is recommended that the transsexual patient waits until breast development has stopped. The reason for this is that if the implants are inserted before breast development completes future development may move the implants around and sometime cause noticeable breast deformity.

Again, the standards of care sets requirements for breast augmentation in male to female transsexuals.

Other Procedures

Other surgeries include facial feminization (tracheal shaving, brow reduction, and jaw bone reduction), as well as liposuction. These surgeries are not without risk and are usually extremely painful. Like with any of the above procedures, careful consideration should be used when considering these options.